Thirty Women and CARE

The second issue of annual digital magazine Open Field is now on the iTunes store.

The easiest way to download it for your iPhone or iPad is to use the link on the Open Field website.

But why should you?

Well, for $4.50 you can enjoy work by 30 talented women, including writing from Elif Shafak (Honour), Emma Donoghue (Room), Claire Messud (The Woman Upstairs) and Lily Brett (Lola Bensky), art from actor-painter Ione Skye, as well as photos, a poem, a video and a song!

Should you wish to download the first issue you’ll find writing from Fatima Bhutto, Anne Summers, Claudia Karvan and Alice Garner, art from Louise Weaver, a story from musician Sally Seltmann, and an interview with restaurateur Nahji Chu.

Everyone involved in the creation of Open Field offered their time and talent without payment. That includes the contributors, editor, and the people at The Royals who stopped work on other projects to make Open Field. Proceeds go to the charity CARE to assist them with their programs that help women in developing communities. So it’s one group trying to step up for another, offering more funds than we could if we were to dive into our separate, less-than-impressive bank accounts.

We hope you’ll take a look, enjoy the magazine, and know that the money you’ve paid is going to a good place.

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Writers Speak

Listening to writers read from their work and talk about it is a treat. Here are some gems I’ve heard lately, not all new but all terrific. 

Joan Didion reads from Blue Nights and is interviewed by Jeffrey Brown on PBS News Hour. My admiration for this woman is limitless. To see a snippet of her in her youth, watch this 1970s NBC interview with Tom Brokaw.

Junot Diaz (pictured above) talks and talks, and also reads from his amazing book of linked short stories, This is How You Lose Her. Continue reading

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How to Sleep

I’ve written one article about sleep, and yet it’s a topic I’m asked about often. Granted, I have talked about my sleepless nights a fair bit.

Since writing my one piece – which tracks the time I spent at sleep school with my baby son – I’ve visited a sleep shrink, tried pills, meditation, mind exercises, naturopathy, and read about sleep. In response to another email asking me if I ever conquered my insomnia (and if so, how so), I figure it’s time to share what I’ve learned. Continue reading

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Life Lessons

I got my first job when I was fifteen years old. Every Thursday from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday from 9am until noon, I worked as a shop assistant at Fay’s Shoes in a monstrously huge, loud, fluro-lit shopping centre that boasted it was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. This boast was repeated to me by Fat Terry when he hired me.

I would never have been brave enough to call him Fat Terry – that’s what one of the other shop assistants, Tracy, called him. She was the only one who seemed relaxed about working, who made jokes, who wasn’t grateful. She took cigarette breaks with Terry by the back door, near the sink full of dirty coffee mugs. I tried to be her friend but another girl beat me to it.

That’s not the point. Continue reading

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Monster at Home

After six days in dog hospital, Badger has come home.

We thought we’d have to say goodbye to him this week. The vet said it’s a miracle (her word) that he recovered from whatever toxic substance he swallowed. He’ll stay on a cocktail of drugs for a few weeks, but he’s alive, and getting stronger.

Thank you for your good wishes, expressed in every medium invented. People are kind. And vets – and spunky animals – are awesome.

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Missing Our Monster

This is our dog. He’s hard to love.

We named him Badger but sometimes we call him Monster. He’s bitten me, many times. Growled, snarled. He ignores me when I call him and if I try to pick him up I risk losing an arm. He snaps at small children who irritate him with their affection. And despite numerous attempts at training, he jumps on every person who stands on our threshold and barks through the night at possums, cars and pedestrians. Continue reading

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Reconsidering Birds

I’ve never been fond of birds. When I was a child, magpies swooped down from gum trees to peck my head as I walked home from school. Some of my friends wore plastic ice-cream containers like helmets to make their commute less hazardous. At home, miner birds screeched at our cats, and cockatoos argued with one another all through summer. In the city, pigeons and seagulls made outdoor eating a trial, and monuments and cars were regularly splattered in unsightly white poo.

As an adult, I grew to love gardening. Birds were not my friends in the garden either. They scratched up seedlings in my vegetable patch and wantonly, wastefully, sampled all the best fruit on my trees.

I do have a soft spot for rosellas, rainbow lorikeets and kookaburras. At holiday houses in the country my brother and I would leave scraps of ham in a line on balcony railings then watch the kookaburras whack each piece into submission before gobbling it up, smiling all the while. I don’t know why we fed them ham but they seemed to enjoy it. Sometimes we threw bread at the ducks and swans in the lakes at the botanic gardens. I liked it best in spring when the downy pale grey signets trailed behind their parents. And although magpies can be vicious I love their warbling songs.

When I was in Banff in October 2011 I heard many of the people in my writing group talk about the intelligence of crows, the beauty of starlings. I was fascinated. Two of the women in my course posted this incredibly beautiful video to their sites (birdsandwords.wordpress.com and poetsandthenews.wordpress.com). It is made by Sophie Windsor Clive, and it is astounding.

I am reconsidering birds, with respect and awe.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

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The Places You’ll Go

The places you'll go

The lines below come from Dr Seuss’ book Oh! The Places You’ll Go! Wise words.

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. Continue reading

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The Fabulous Mr Fox

When I was at Banff, last month, the Wired Writing Studio group met on Friday afternoons to read from work we admired. I loathe readings. At least, I thought I did. These, I enjoyed. Continue reading

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Banff. Cal. Van. Syd. Melb

Bow River, BanffI arrived home in Melbourne yesterday afternoon. The heading is my itinerary, but a list of pit stops can only tell so much. It doesn’t say the 25-hour commute from Canada to Australia was better and worse than the trip there. Worse because I was aware, with still-fresh clarity, of what was about to hit me – and to the body it is an assault. Better because I was coming home to my family, and the trip had been perfect. Flawless, I say when my parents phone, as if I’d anticipated flaws. Continue reading

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